Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If Only I Loved Swimming: Thoughts from the Edge of the Diving Board

When I was a little girl, I loved to swim.  Up to the edge of the diving board I would walk, letting my toes linger briefly at the edge.  My mom taught me how to stretch my arms up high and bend toward the water, so I could slice right through the surface. Eventually I became more comfortable at the end of the board, and I wanted to feel the movement of the board under my little body.  I wanted to dive "big." Standing there, arms locked tight beside my ears, fingers pointed, I loved to spring off the board and try to swim the whole length of the pool before coming up for air.

At the ocean, my dad and I would wade slowly out into the icy Atlantic surf at Acadia.  Sometimes we'd stand still, feeling the sand rushing out from beneath our feet each time the waves pulled away from the shore.  My dad and I would swim together in that water, only coming out when we couldn't even feel our skin anymore for the cold.

Now I'm a grown-up, and I don't love swimming.  Now, I prefer to sit in a beach chair with a good book, watching the kids play in the water.  I don't think being flung from the end of a diving board into a bunch of chlorinated pool water sounds like fun (or like a good idea for preserving my hair color).  Freezing half to death in the ocean, where I might be unfortunate enough to run into a jelly fish - and I'll definitely be unfortunate enough to have bits of sand sticking to me for days - is not my idea of a good time.

And that's ok.  As long as we're talking about swimming.

But what about my faith?  I want to be someone who gets to the edge and jumps.  I want my jumping to be fearless and for there to be no lingering at the edge of my comfort zone.  When the sway of uncertainty is under my feet and growing with each step, I don't want to hesitate before stretching my arms up heavenward and diving in.

What I notice about myself is that it's not the jumping part that I'm afraid of.  It's the landing.  Specifically it's the not-knowing-where-I'm-landing part.  A lot of times, I know what God's asking me to do, but I really struggle when I don't know the "how" part of His plan.  God's reminding me daily that He is telling me the "what," but I won't know the "how" until I leave the diving board.

Where is the line of trust drawn?  Do I have a place I'll follow Jesus up to, but to go beyond that is too far? Will I only stand up to my ankles at the edge of the expanse of what God's preparing for my life, or will I rush in, even when the sand is slipping from beneath my feet and the water's really cold?

I'm asking God to fill me with the kind of faith that never pauses before leaping.  I really want it to be something that happens without the requirement of leaping first, but that isn't how faith works.  So I'm standing at the edge, and sometimes I close my eyes, because I don't dare to look.  I just have to jump.

Once in a while, my dive is graceful and sure.  Other times, I jump reluctantly, as though I'm unsure if there's even water in the pool.  There are even moments I know I've sat in my chair when I should have been swimming.  I wonder what I've missed.

God is calling us to get in the water.  What if we all held on loosely to what we have, to where we are comfortable, to our financial security, to our agendas?  I've heard the phrase "give until it hurts" several times recently, and I don't know if I've ever done that.  I've thought of the rich man in Mark 10 who was told by Jesus, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."  He walked away, because he only wanted Jesus as long as it didn't cost him too much.

Today, I'm praying that all of us will be taking more steps in faith and fewer in fear and that we will be people who show our love by our obedience, whatever the cost.  I'm asking God to keep giving me reasons to get back on that diving board, so I can eventually be good at diving headfirst, fearlessly and "big" into His will and even try swimming for a while before coming up for air.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

"We live by faith and not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

"For Christ's love compels us... And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2 Corinthians 5:14a & 15

Reckless Faith: Let Go and Be Led
If you want to move more fearlessly into the adventure God's designed you to live, and you want to be inspired to stretch your faith, read this book!

1 comment:

  1. I think it might be worth diving into your faith and a pool every now and then. Reclaim that inner child! I never quite left him behind. :)